Friday, September 28, 2012

Cholar Dal...With luchi and begun bhaja..


Cholar dal or chana dal or bengal gram
Misti misti cholar dal(sweet bengal gram soup) has a special place in Bong's food chart. This is not a regular everyday food. It is made on special occasions and has its special accompanies, luchi(fried puffed Indian bread) and begun bhaja(fried egg plant).

The thick sweet dal flavored with aromatic spices and ghee(clarified butter) and jeweled with fried cashew, raisins and coconut is indeed something very special. Cholar dal, along with begun bhaja(fried eggplant) and luchi is very common in the menu during pujas, marriage ceremonies or birthday parties in Bengali household.

The preparation is very simple but the taste is heavenly. Few days back my friend Priyanka asked me for this recipe, so here is my take on sweet thick cholar dal....and don't forget the luchi.


Things needed to make Cholar Dal:

Cholar dal/Chana Dal/ Bengal gram: 1cup
Bay leaf:2
Cinnamon: 1inch sticks 2-3
Cardamom: 3-4
Cloves:5-6
Dry red chilies: 2-3
Shah jeera/black cumin: 1/2tsp
Grated ginger:1tsp
Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
Cashew nuts:1tbsp
Raisins:1tbsp
Coconut (cut into thin strips): 1tbsp
Salt to taste
Sugar:3tsp
Ghee: 1tsp
Oil


 

Steps of making Cholar Dal:


1. Soak the chana dal/bengal gram for 2-3hrs. Wash dal till water runs clear. Put the dal in a pressure cooker along with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Cook till 2 whistles. Wait till pressure releases.

2. As the dal is cooking, fry the cashew nuts, raisins and thin strips of coconut and keep them aside.


3. After the pressure releases, check the dal. It should be cooked perfectly but not mushy. In a kadai or pan add oil. When the oil is hot add bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, shah jeera(black cumin) and cook on medium heat till the spices release nice aroma.

4. Add grated ginger and cook for 1-2min. Add turmeric powder and the cooked dal. Mix well. Add salt and sugar and the fried dry fruits and coconut. Add sufficient amount of sugar to make the dal taste sweet. This sweetness is the speciality of this dal. Add water if needed. This cholar dal would be of a thicker consistency. But keep one thing in mind, as it cools down it will become more thick.

5. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add ghee and mix well. Switch off heat, serve with begun bhaja(fried egg plant) and luchi.
Cholar dal aar begun bhaja(chana dal and fried egg plant)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken bharta...kolkata style..

Bharta or bhurta means minced or mashed. It can be a vegetarian dish, like baingan bharta(egg plant grilled and mashed), or non-veg like chicken bharta. Today I made Chicken bharta. It is a very popular dish in the restaurants of Kolkata and I have tasted it so many times on several occasions. I was thinking of making chicken bharta for a long time...but was not sure whether I can recreate the Kolkata style chicken bharta...then I came across this video in YouTube. And the restaurant they mentioned in this video is just a walking distance from my home in Kolkata. So I made up my mind to recreate that Kolkata style chicken bharta in my kitchen. I did came across several other recipes on the Internet. I took bits and pieces from all the these and made this chicken bharta. I could not manage to capture every single steps, but in near future I will post step by step pics for sure.  So this time I managed to take few pics while making the chicken bharta, hope this will help you.


Things needed to make Chicken Bharta:

To prepare the chicken:

  • Chicken breast boneless: 250gm
  • Garlic: 1 large clove
  • Onion: 1/4th
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Black peppercorn:5-6
  • Cinnamon: 1inch stick
  • Salt
  • Water


To make the gravy:


  • Hard boiled egg: 1
  • Onion (finely chopped): 3/4cup
  • Garlic paste:1/2 tbsp
  • Ginger paste:1/2 tbsp
  • Tomato (finely chopped): 1/2cup
  • Yogurt: 3tbsp
  • Fresh cream: 3tbsp
  • Cinnamon: 1inch stick 2-3
  • Cardamom: 3-4
  • Cloves: 5-6
  • Bay leaf: 1-2
  • Chicken Tandoori masala: 1tbsp
  • Degi mirch powder: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2tsp
  • Butter(melted): 1tbsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1tsp
  • Kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves: 1/2tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Kewra essence: 4-5drops
  • Coriander leaves(chopped): to garnish



Steps of making Chicken Bharta:


1. Wash and clean the chicken breast. Cut into large chunks. In a pan take the chicken and water with a clove garlic, a quartered onion, black peppercorn, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt. As the water boils, reduce heat and cook for 15 to 20 min. 'Scum' (white foamy frothy stuff) may float on top, discard with a ladle. Take out the chicken pieces and let them cool down. Do not throw away the broth, it can be used to thin the curry or to make soups and other dishes. I used boneless chicken breast, as that was I had in my refrigerator. But it is wise to use chicken with bone, as the bones imparts flavor to the dish.


2. As the chicken pieces cool down, shred the chicken into thin strips. Give good time to shred the chicken, long thin shredded chicken makes a good chicken bharta. For me it was the most time consuming part during the whole process bharta making process. Keep the shredded chicken aside.


3. In a kadai or pan add oil, when the oil is hot add bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves and cook till the spices release a nice aroma.

4. Add chopped onion, and cook on a medium heat till the onions turns golden brown. Take care, do not burn the onions.

5. Add ginger and garlic paste, cook for 2min. Add the chopped tomatoes. I seeded the tomatoes before chopping them, but I kept the skin for the nice red color. Add a pinch of salt, mix well. cover the pan and cook on low medium heat till the tomatoes are done.

6. Add tandoori masala, it is a key ingredient for that typical restaurant like smell in your chicken bharta. Go to your closest Indian grocery store and pick one small box of tandoori masala, any brand is good.

7. Add degi mirch powder, mix well and cook for 1-2min. Add the yogurt. Always bring the yogurt to room temperature before adding. I beat the yogurt with a teaspoon of sugar and little water. Cook till oil separates, add the shredded chicken, salt and mix well. Add some chicken stock, let it boil.


8. Separate the yolk and the white part of the hard boiled egg. Mash and add the yolk to the chicken and keep the white part to garnish.


9. Cover and cook for 10min on medium heat. Stir in between. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add kewra essence, another key ingredient for that restaurant like flavor.

10. Reduce the flame and add the fresh cream and kasuri methi(dry fenugreek leaves). Mix well. Switch off the heat. Add melted butter and garam masala powder and immediately cover the pan. Let it stand for 10min. Transfer it to a serving bowl, garnish with chopped coriander leaves. 

Serve hot with naan or roti or chapati...

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Nolen gurer sandesh...date palm jaggery sweet



Sandesh or Sondesh is a popular Bengali dessert. Sandesh are categorised and named depending on the flavor and the way it is cooked. Sandesh can be flavored in several different ways, vanilla, cardamom, saffron, chocolate, fruit pulps and many more. Sometimes Sandesh are cooked very little to make a very soft melt-in-mouth dessert, those are called norom paker sandesh(norom=soft, pak=cooking). And some are cooked for a quite a long time and that results to a hard sweet, kora paker sandesh(kora=hard, pak=cooking).
Sandesh are also categorised depending on the sweetener used to make the sandesh. It can be either sugar or jaggery. The sandesh made from jaggery is very special, they are called Gurer Sandesh(gur=jaggery). The jaggery used for make particular variety of sandesh is a very special one, the date palm jaggery. This is only available during the winter in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh.
The jaggery collector put a hollow pipe on the trunk of the date palm tree and they hang a earthen pot under the pipe. Overnight the sap gets collected on the earthen pot. The sap is boiled to make the dark caramel colored jaggery. This date palm jaggery has an unmistakable flavor. This is Bongs favourite notun gur or nolen gur. It is used for making sweets(misti), rice pudding(payes), special candy(pithe).
Today I made Norom paker sandesh using date palm jaggery. This is a very simple and quick dessert. the speciality about this sweet dish is the flavor of date palm jaggery. Thanks to our Bangladeshi grocery store, who supply my yearly stock of date palm jaggery.

Things needed to make nolen gurer sandesh:

Whole Milk:2ltr
Lime juice:3-4tbsp
Date palm jaggery:4-5tbsp+1tbsp melted
Sugar:1-2tbsp(optional)
Raisins to garnish
Pistachio to garnish

Steps of making nolen gurer sandesh:

1. Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Stir in between. As the milk boils gradually add the lime juice and stir. The milk will curdle. Take a cheesecloth or a piece of muslin on a strainer and strain the curdled milk. Make a potli with the cheese cloth. Wash the chana/cottage cheese under cold water or just keep on a bowl full of ice cubes.  For step by step detail of chana/cottage cheese making go to this click here.
2. After making the chana, let it stand on the strainer for 20min. For this sandesh we do not want the chana to be very dry. It should be moist, or the sandesh won't be soft.
3. After 20min take the chana put of the cloth and knead it. Knead till there is no lumps in the chana. the chana will be a bit sticky, as it has water in it. But do not worry, that is perfect for a soft sandesh.
Date palm jaggery
4. Take a non stick pan, add 2tbsp of water. Add pieces of jaggery and let it melt over very low heat. Keep on stirring as the jaggery is melting. When all the jaggery is melted add the kneaded chana. Mix well. Keep heat to lowest. Cook till the chana and jaggery is mixed well. Check the sweetness, if needed add more jaggery or sugar. This soft sandeshes are generally less sweet, but it depends on your choice and taste, so adjust accordingly.

5. Cook for 5-6min. You can see that the chana is coming together and tending to release the pan. And if you take a little chana mixture in between your fingers it won't stick. Switch off the heat, but do not stop stirring. The pan is still hot. Stir for another 4-5min, transfer to a plate. Wet your palms with water and make round shapes. From the chana of 2ltr whole milk, you can make 20-22 round sandesh.

Nolen gurer sondesh...drizzled with liquid jaggery

Garnish with raisins and pistachio, drizzle some melted date pal jaggery and serve. Can be stored in an air tight container for 2-3days in room temperature.


Chingri macher malaikari...a signature Bengali dish

Chingri macher malaikari...prawn in creamy coconut gravy is always close to every Bengali's heart. If you are talking about a typical Bong spread then malaikari is a must on that.

There is a big debate  though about the origin of this dish. Some say it derives the name from the creamy coconut gravy, malai means cream, hence called malaikari or malaicurry. The other opinion is, it has originated in the land of Malay...
But frankly, I do not want to scratch my head pondering about the origin of the dish, whatever may be the origin, the dish is always a show stopper and my all time favorite. And my 5yr old too agrees with me. I have seen my grandma and my mother to cook this dish several times. And I also follow the same.


This is my entry to BWW#89 of Black and White Wednesday- a culinary photography event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, now managed by Cinzia of Cindystar, and hosted by Lynne Daley of Cafe Lynnylu.


Back to the Malaikari Recipe, it's here...

Things needed to make Chingri Malaikari:



  • Large prawns: 6
  • Onion(grated): 2tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1/2tsp
  • Ginger paste: 1tbsp
  • Cinnamon: 2-3(1inch stick)
  • Cardamom(crushed): 3-4
  • Cloves: 4-5
  • Bay leaf: 1-2
  • Dry red chili: 2-3
  • Shah jeera/black cumin: 1/2tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1/2tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2tsp
  • Garam masala powder:1/4tsp
  • Thick coconut milk: 1cup
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1tsp
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste


The steps of making Chingri Malaikari:


1. Wash, clean and devein the prawns. Peel the prawns but keep the shell on head and on tail. Smear salt and turmeric powder on prawns and keep aside for 20-30min.


2. In a pan or kadai add oil, any vegetable oil is good. When the oil is hot add the prawns. Cook for 2-3min on high heat or as they change color to red. Do not overcook the prawns, or they will turn chewy and hard. Keep the fried prawns aside.

3. In the same pan or kadai add some more oil. do not discard the oil from fried prawns. As the oil heats up, add bay leaf, whole garam masala(cinnamon, cardamom, cloves), shah jeera/black cumin, dry red chilies. Cook till the spices release nice aroma, add the garlic paste and cook for 1min. Sometimes I have seen my mother add slices of garlic to the oil, and cook the garlic till red, then she discards the garlic slices from the oil. This way the garlic does not dominate the curry but leaves a mild aroma. I do both way, even sometimes without garlic. It is entirely on your choice which one you prefer.



4. As the garlic is done, add the onion paste. Cook on medium heat for 3min.Add the ginger paste and mix well. Cook for 2-3min on medium flame. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and cumin powder, mix well. Cook for 2min then add the coconut milk. I used canned coconut milk, those are readily available in any grocery stores. If you like you can make fresh coconut milk. For that scrape  the coconut and keep soaked in hot water. Make a fine paste of the coconut and strain it, your coconut milk is ready.




5. As the gravy boils, add the fried prawns. Cover and cook on low-medium flame for 3-4min. do not overcook the prawns. Check seasoning, accordingly add salt and sugar. Switch off the heat. Add ghee and garam masala powder, close the lid immediately. Let it stand for 10min. Serve with steamed hot rice.



Coconut milk is the key ingredient of this dish. Aromatic garam masala with creamy coconut milk blended with flavorsome prawns makes this dish a topper. There are many who do not add any garlic and onion to their malaikari, even there are recipe that totally rejects usage of turmeric powder. But at the end it's individual's choice. I sometimes make my malaikari without any garlic, sometimes with cumin and without....but adding mustard paste or tomato or fennel paste to malaikari is a big no for me.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Palak-paneer kofta...Spinach-cottage cheese balls in gravy




We all are familiar with the popular Indian dish Palak-paneer or Saag-paneer. Palak is spinach and paneer is cottage cheese in Hindi. Every single Indian restaurant in this world have them in their menu. I simply love the traditional pairing of soft cottage cheese and creamy spinach. The combination of some hot oven-fresh naan(Indian flat bread) and a bowl of palak-paneer is unparalleled.
Today I made a dish which combines the spinach and cottage cheese, but in a different way. I remember many years back, in a cookery show I watched a different type of spinach-cottage cheese combination. It was a very popular Bengali cookery show of that time, "বেনু দির রান্নাঘর" (Benudir Rannaghor) hosted by one of the renowned cook in Bengal and actress Supriya Devi. I used to love watching her cooking. She used to create mouthwatering delicacies with such ease and grace.
I remember once she made some koftas with spinach and cottage cheese. Though it was long ago, may be it was something different, but the main ingredients were these....Spinach and cottage cheese. So using whatever I had stored in my long term memory from that show, I made these palak paneer koftas. And to my joy it was an instant hit in my family.

Things needed to make Palak-Paneer Kofta:

Chana/Cottage cheese: 1and 1/2cup
Spinach(finely chopped):1cup
Onion(finely chopped):1/4cup
Ginger Paste:2tsp
Ginger julienne: to garnish
Tomato(chopped):1large
Yogurt:1tbsp
Sour cream:1tbsp
Cumin powder:1tsp
Coriander powder:1tsp
Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
Red chili powder:1/2tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder:1/2tsp
Garam masala powder:1tsp
Whole garam masala
Bay leaf:1
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Ghee:1tsp
Oil:3-4tbsp

Steps of making Palak-Paneer-Kofta:

1.To make the home made cottage cheese or chana: Boil 2 litre whole milk in a heavy bottom pan. As the milk boils add lime juice and curdle the milk. Strain the curdled milk, wash in running cold water or keep it in bowl full of ice cubes. Drain all the water and hung the chana on a strainer for 1hr. Your home made cottage cheese/chana is ready. Cover and keep aside.
2. Wash spinach leaves well and chop them fine. Try to use the fresh soft leaves. I used baby spinach.

3. To make the spinach stuffing: In a non stick pan or kadai add oil, as the oil is hot add the chopped onions. Onions should be chopped very fine. As the onion changes color to pink add the chopped spinach, mix well. Cook on high-medium heat. Add little salt, sugar, pinch of garam masala powder. If you like you can also add chopped ginger and green chilies, if you are going to serve this dish to kids better not to add them. Keep cooking till all the water from spinach is gone. Let the stuffing cool down.

4.To make the Koftas: Knead the chana with your palm till smooth, approximately 1 cup of chana takes 3min of kneading. Add salt and sugar to the chana and mix well. Try to make balls out of it, if it does not stick to your hand and it feels soft smooth then you are ready to make the koftas. If the chana has too much water in it, then it will stick to your hand, mix little all purpose flour or corn starch to the chana(not more than 1tsp). And if the chana is too dry, it may fall apart, in that case add little milk and corn starch to it.


Make 8 equal size of balls from the chana. Make a deep depression on each balls and add the stuffing.
Close the balls and make a round shape. If a little spinach come out from the sides do not worry, it will give a nice look to the koftas. If you are making stuffed koftas for first time be careful and resist yourself from adding too much of stuffing.

5. Frying the koftas: In a kadai or pan add oil(3tbsp), as the oil is hot reduce heat to medium and add the koftas to fry. I did not deep fry the koftas. I like them to be shallow fried. It takes a little more time but I like it that way. And I used a non stick pan, that makes it easier. You can always deep fry them. Keep watch on the heat, the koftas should be evenly colored.

After the koftas are fried keep them on a paper towel lined plate. These fried koftas taste so good...how do I know know that...errr...mmm....yeah I tasted one...just one...this is culinary privilege, after all I should check the seasoning....:)


6. Making the gravy: In the same oil(if needed add some more oil) add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom, cloves, when the spices release nice aroma, reduce heat to low and add ginger paste, cook for 1min. Add the chopped tomatoes.(If you can't use tomatoes for health reason, use 1tsp cashew nut paste, for a healthier version use 1tbsp boiled mashed potato) Cover and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are mushy. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, mix well and cook for 2min. Add the yogurt and mix well. I always beat the yogurt with little water and sugar before adding it to the gravy. Add sour cream and cook on medium flame till oil separates from the masalas.

As the oil separates from the masala, add 1cup of lukewarm water. Let the gravy boil. As it boils switch off the heat. Let the gravy cool down a bit, then strain the gravy.

Take a clean pan, add ghee. As the ghee melts add the strained gravy. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. As the gravy boils, add the koftas gently to the gravy. Switch off the heat, sprinkle garam masala powder and immediately cover the pan. Let it stand for 10-12min. Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with julienned gingers or chopped coriander.

Palak paneer koftas...serve hot with pulao or naan


Monday, September 17, 2012

Tetor dal:yellow lentil with bitter gourd


Korola, Bitter gourd...from the name it is very evident why this vegetable is not so welcomed to evreyone, but from childhood I love Bitter gourd. Boiled bitter gourd and potato mashed (Uchhe-alu bhate) together with salt and mustard oil, is my all time favourite. Or crispy fried bitter gourds(korola bhaja) with a dash of mustard sauce(kasundi)...mmm for me these are mouth watering.

A typical bengali menu begins with something bitter, be it Sukto(Bitter-sweet vegetable curry) or simple fried or boiled bitter gourd. Other than bitter gourd there are several other hundreds of bitter vegetables/leafy greens, those are part of regular bengali diet.

Today I made lentil soup with bitter gourd....Tetor dal. Yellow lentils(Moog dal) along with bitter gourd. It also has bottle gourd(Lau), and as the bitterness blends with the soft bottle gourd and lentils, this dish does not taste that bitter, rather it has bitter-sweet medley. And another speciality of this lentil soup is the flavor of Randhuni/Indian celery seeds. Randhuni is a very common spice found in Bengali kitchen, used widely for making Sukto to Fish curries.

Yellow lentil, bitter gourd, bottle gourd

Things needed to make Tetor dal:



  • Moog dal/Yellow lentil:1/2cup
  • Korola/Bitter gourd:1 medium cut into rounds
  • Lau/Bottle gourd:8-10 large cubes
  • Ginger: 1tsp(grated)+1tsp(julienne)
  • Green chilies:2(Optional)
  • Celery seed:1/2tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Oil

Ingredients for Tetor dal

Steps for making Tetor dal:


1. Soak the bitter gourd in water for 10-15min, then wash them well. Cut the bitter gourd into 1/2cm thick rounds. If the seeds are ripe and hard, discard the seeds.

2. Peel and wash bottle gourd, and cut into large cubes 1and1/2 inch thickness.
Moog dal/Yellow lentil

3. Wash the yellow lentil thoroughly, till the water runs clear. In a pressure cooker put the lentils and cubed bottle gourd and water. Cook on high heat till 2 whistles. Remove from heat. Wait till the pressure releases.

Boiled lentil and bottle gourd
4. In a pan or kadai heat 2tbsp of oil and fry the bitter gourd pieces. Add salt and turmeric powder while frying.
Fried bitter gourd

5. In the pan or kadai add 1tbsp oil, when the oil is hot reduce the heat and add celery seeds(Randhuni). If you are staying outside India, and do not manage to get Randhuni in the stores, just look for this India Celery Seeds in any local grocery stores.
Randhuni/Celery seed
6. Add the grated ginger and cook for 1-2min. Add the boiled lentil and bottle gourd, turmeric powder and water. The amount of water depends on the thickness you want for the soup. Add the fried bitter gourd. As it boils, reduce the heat add green chilies, cover and cook for 10min. Add sugar.

7. Check the seasoning, adjust accordingly. Switch off the heat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the julienned ginger, immediately cover the bowl.
Serve hot with rice
Serve with steamed rice, along with some fried potato or egg plant or pumpkin..a delicious healthy lentil soup.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kasuri Methi murg..Fenugreek chicken curry


For the last few days I had to stay away from my kitchen due to my health conditions. It was a bad cold that put me down, and could not even think of going to the kitchen to cook something. The man in the house was in charge of the kitchen. No, don't worry, it was not that bad. He can cook. He planned to cook this chicken dish but I cooked it finally. What a relief...!! 

Methi-murg is fenugreek flavored chicken curry. Either fresh fenugreek leaves(Methi saag) or dry leaves(Kasuri methi) can be used to make this chicken curry. Though, both taste different from each other. For me, I like the kasuri methi version, that is using dry fenugreek leaves. Using kasuri methi brings more flavor to the curry. And it is hassle free also, as you can buy a pack of kasuri methi from any grocery store and use them any time you want to. Whereas the fresh fenugreek leaves are seasonal and the washing, separating the leaves from stems one by one, chopping, blanching.....phewww...I'm sure you got my point.

Things needed to make Kasuri Methi-Murgh:


Chicken:700gm
Onion(finely chopped):1n1/2cups
Garlic(minced):1tbsp
Ginger:2tbsp
Tomato(chopped):1 large
Yogurt:1/2cup
Methi/Fenugreek seeds:1tbsp
Dry red chilies:5-6
Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
Red chili powder:1tbsp
Cumin powder:2tsp
Garam masala powder:1tsp
Kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves: 2tbsp
Black pepper powder: 1tsp
Sugar
Salt
Oil

The steps of making Kasuri Methi-Murgh:


1. I used a whole chicken weighing around 700gm. Skin the chicken and cut into 12-14 pieces. Wash well and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, salt, black pepper and 2tbsp oil. I used Greek yogurt to marinate the chicken pieces. If you do not have Greek yogurt at home, use hung curd instead. Marinate the chicken at least for 4-5hrs.

2. Take a deep pan or kadai, heat 4tbsp oil. When the oil is hot reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek seeds(methi dana). Let the seeds change color to brown, but take care not to burn them. You can smell the nice aroma of fenugreek by this time. Take out all the seeds out of oil and discard. Yes DISCARD all the seeds. Though they are very flavorful, fenugreek seeds are very bitter in taste. We do not want any bitterness in our dish, just only the flavor.
Fenugreek seeds and dry red chilies
3. In the same oil, add dry red chilies. Increase the heat and add minced garlic. Cook the garlic till brown. Add the chopped onions, mix well. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pan and cook for 3-4min. Stir well and cook for another 5min. Add the ginger paste and mix well. Uncover and cook for 1-2min and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chili powder. The amount of red chili powder always depends on how much heat you and your family members like or can stand. Mix well.
4. Increase the heat, add the marinated chicken pieces, stir well so all the masalas coat the chicken well. Cover and cook for 10min on medium flame. The chicken will release a lot of water, so now on uncover and cook till the chicken is done. Stir in-between, and take care so chicken is not over done.
5. When the chicken is cooked, increase the heat and reduce the gravy to a thick consistency. Add sugar and salt to adjust the seasoning. Add garam masala powder. I used home made garam masala. For that lightly dry roast some cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, shah jira(black cumin), and little nutmeg, let them cool and ground to powder.


Kasuri Methi/Dry fenugreek leaves
6. Take kasuri methi in between your palms and crush them to powder and add the curry. Switch off the heat, mix well, cover and let it stand for 10min.
Methi-murg with pea pulao
Serve with roti or pulao. I had mine with pea pulao.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fish fry...from the streets of Kolkata



Bengalis love fish. Fish curry and rice(macher jhol-bhat) is an integral part of their staple diet. Fish  curries can be made in several different ways. Other than fish curries, Mach bhaja or fried fish is also served as a starter with rice and dal(lentils).
The mach bhaja (fried fish) is fish pieces seasoned with salt and turmeric and fried in mustard oil till crisp and golden brown. A wide variety of fishes are used to make Mach bhaja, small fishes like Mourola(Anchovies), PuNti(River barb), Parshe(Mullet) etc, as well as the Peti(belly part) of the large fishes like Rohu, Katla etc are also used. And of course every Bengali's weakness Ilish mach bhaja.
Other than simple fried fish, fishes are also dipped in batter before frying. The most common one is Topshe fry. This special fried fish is very popular and served on special occasions like Biye bari(marriage ceremony) or Annaprashon (rice ceremony).

All of the above mentioned fried fish dishes are made of fishes with bones. The continental style of filleting fish was not known to Bengalis initially. It came as an influence of the British cuisine and lead to one of the famous street food of Kolkata, the Fish fry, bread crumb coated Bekti(Bhetki) fillets.

Fish fry is my all time favourite. I can have them anytime...at breakfast to dinner. Just thinking of munching those soft fish  fillets with a crunchy bread crumb coating...brings a smile on my face.

The original fish fry recipe needs Bekti fish(Bhetki mach), but I used Swai fillets to make them. you can use tilapia or catfish fillets.

Things needed to make Fish Fry:


  • Swai/tilapia/cat fish/bekti fish fillets(cut into rectangles):10
  • Lime juice:half of the lime
  • Black pepper powder:1tsp (white pepper powder can also be used)
  • Onion:1 small
  • Garlic:3-4cloves
  • Ginger:1inch
  • Green chilies:2-3
  • Dried mint:1tsp (can be replaced by 1tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves)
  • Coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Bread crumbs to coat
  • Egg:2
  • Water:5-6 tbsp
  • Oil to deep fry

The steps of making Fish Fry:

1. Cut the fish fillets into rectangular pieces. Marinate the fillets with lime juice, salt, black or white pepper powder. Let the pieces marinate for 15min.



 2. As the fish pieces are marinating, make the second marinade. For that make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, green chilies, coriander leaves, mint leaves. I used dried mint leaves. If you are using fresh leaves use double the quantity than the dried one.


3. Make a smooth paste and marinate the fish pieces with the paste for 1hr.



4. After 1hr, make the egg wash. For the egg wash break eggs and mix with water(5-6tbsp) and beat well. Spread bread crumbs on a flat plate.


5. Dip fish pieces in egg wash, dip one piece at a time. Shake off excess egg wash and dredge the piece with bread crumbs.




6. Cover the fish pieces with bread crumbs. And press with fingers so they are well coated. Again dip the fish piece in egg wash and coat with bread crumbs.
You can store the bread crumb coated fishes in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
 7. Heat oil in a pan or kadai, deep fry the fish till evenly brown. Serve with salad and kasundi(mustard sauce).


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